Appearance vs comfort

SWEATS: Clothes can determine how others may perceive you.

I have a wonderful relationship with my pajamas.

I tend to go through cycles of which ones I use. Right now I’m on a nightgown binge. A few months ago, I used boxers and sports bras. Before that, I was all about patterned flannel sets. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I really love my PJ’s.

As a freshman, I spent a lot of class periods in my pajamas. I had an 8 a.m. chemistry lecture so often, I’d roll out of bed and go without changing. If I was lucky, I’d get time to shower and put on a pair of sweats instead. Class would be spent comfortably with dripping wet hair. I took notes, asked questions and did everything a good student should.

I noticed anytime I asked the professor questions after class, I was treated differently. Maybe this was all a figment of my imagination, but I noticed I was treated with more respect when I was wearing jeans and a T-shirt rather than a T-shirt and sweatpants. I started seeing it with other teachers, both those who knew me by name and those who knew me by number.

So, what gives? Am I being judged on my attire? I didn’t see it with other students, and I have seen far worse in classroom attire than my matching owl shirt and pants. As a super-senior, I don’t often get to wear my super casual, super comfy, PJ’s to class. I have to look decent for my job at the Writing Center. Now that I’ve had some years to think on it, I’ve come to two conclusions: either teachers unconsciously judge us on our attire or I felt insecure in my beloved PJ’s and was projecting that feeling onto the professors.

As much as I would like to say we don’t, we still judge others based on appearance. I am not here to argue whether this is right or wrong, but I think it is safe to say it is a fact.

A person who shows up to a job interview in sweats is less likely to get hired than the person who shows up in a suit. UND even offers lunches to teach manners in lunch interviews. Appearance matters in today’s world. Is it possible  then that my appearance affected the way I was treated in class?

I can say that I do not feel at my best when wearing my PJ’s in public. When I want to feel good about myself, I dress up. Admittedly, it’s a bit like what I did as a child. Instead of a princess costume, I put on heels and a dress. Instead of ‘borrowing’ my mother’s make up, I pick an eyeshadow from my own overly-large collection. When I dress up, I do so because I feel good about myself. This is not to say this is why all people dress up. This is my personal reason.

Often, when I wear my PJ’s, it’s because I’m feeling lazy or ill. From this, I feel insecure. I worry that people are looking at me, judging. Being comfortable can ruin my whole day. When I’m in a bad mood, I often misconstrue what people are telling me. I read negativity in the nicest of compliments.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that this is how I am, people are no nicer or meaner on my bad days. I just perceive them differently.

In all honesty, I believe most professors are so busy they could care less what I wear. Unless what I’m wearing causes a distraction or limits what I have to do for classes, there isn’t any reason they should care. Granted, I’m sure there are professors out there who will lose their minds if I show up to class in anything less than pearls and a sweater set, but I highly doubt that the majority gives more than a passing glance.

In the end, I guess it isn’t so much about what you wear to class, but what you take out of class. When taking a test, I remember the formulas, not what I wore the day I learned them.

Kjerstine Trooien is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]